The Death of Human Compassion in Wartime

Allied advances through Germany nearing the end of the war revealed a secret that Germany’s militants and citizens had been keeping since 1942.  Among the reclaimed land there were horrors that no one wished to see.  Specifically, these horrors were the “death camps” that were created for the purpose of “Germanizing” the captured land and systematically killing off the Jews as well as any resistance that arose.  However, the term “death camp” does no justice to the people that had to endure this insufferable place.  A slaughterhouse compared to these camps would have been seen as more humane.  These people were being starved mercilessly to death, gassed, burnt, tortured, enslaved, prostituted, and I am sure far more unimaginable things.  They were in effect being dehumanized and degraded by their captors.  How anyone could bare these circumstances is beyond me, but the real question remains, how could a person treat a fellow human being in such a way.

I feel as though my words are not enough.  To understand where I am coming from, you must first see Alfred Hitchcock’s documentary.  It is a powerful peace and as you will see it isn’t the narrator’s words that give this piece its power.  Its almost like the dead are speaking throughout, if nothing else to say, “look at me, look at what they have done to me.”

Had the Germans been so embedded with the seed of hate towards these people or did fear perhaps play an integral part of this atrocity?  These questions are beyond me to answer, but it is apparent that the soldiers working at these camps knew what they were doing was wrong because, in a last ditch effort, some of the smaller camps tried to eliminate the evidence of what they had done.  This meant the expedited murder of the camps prisoners.  Thousands died, painfully, as the troops advanced towards them.

I believe this documentary to have been made to serve as a reminder and a teachers aid when discussing the Holocaust.  Prior to seeing this all the history books seem to focus on are the numbers behind it all, numbers alone cannot depict the act in its entirety, nor can words.  It is sad to think that mankind has not learned its lesson, but the truth is that we have not.  There has been much genocide committed in third world countries since the end of WWII.  In an article by Scott Lamb entitled Genocide Since 1945, Lamb discusses many instances of genocide since the Holocaust.  He states that there have, in fact, been 37 incidents since 1945 and goes on to discuss a few in detail.  His examples include Bangladesh, East Timor, Cambodia, Guatemala, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.  In all the cases, millions of people were murdered because of religion, political views, and race while the world stood by shaking their heads in disapproval but ultimately failing to act.

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~ by eldribri on October 8, 2009.

One Response to “The Death of Human Compassion in Wartime”

  1. This was an awesome post that highlights an awesome documentary. In addition to Hitchcock’s film, I applaud the use of the Lamb article. You’re right; words cannot do justice, or explain the terrible nature of genocide. Words provide a great source of information, but fall short in really capturing the weight of mass murder. Will genocide ever become an archaic concept? It is my hope that some day it becomes something that is read about . . . in history books, something that is not understood by a generation, by the world. It is inevitable that war will always exist, but genocide seems so primitive and pointless to me. It either sparks civil war, or is a result of civil conflict – both awful. Realistically, though, genocide/ethnic cleansing are practices that have gone on in states, usually third world countries (with the exception of the Holocaust, of course), era after era. The examples he gave: East Timor, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur all confirm that country status influences unrest and instability, that are stand out issues for third world countries. It seems to me, that we must be accountable for aiding those countries that cannot help themselves, and I believe this is imperative on the humanitarian level. I am against pre-emptive strikes, or aiding that comes from impure/selfish motives, or aid in order to benefit. I just see the world as a community, and if we were ever in need, I would hope someone would come to rescue us. We must do the same before this is a reality I could hold out for, though.

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